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Friday, November 30, 2007 02:03 PM
Gatherings
 by Fëanor

-Getting together with everybody at movie night again this Wednesday, after a long absence, was really excellent. I'd almost forgotten all the wonderfully geeky and/or horrible things we say to each other during the average movie night. So I had a great time, despite the fact that we were forced to watch A Knight's Tale. I actually had been curious to see this movie for some time, but with all due respect to Zoe and EverMike, it is truly terrible. It's gleefully anachronistic and painfully overlong, with a wretched screenplay, vomitous dialogue, bad acting, and so fully loaded with cliches that it's a wonder it doesn't screech to a halt under the weight of them all within the first 20 minutes. But no, sadly, it somehow goes on for over 2 hours. Still, going through it all with the gang was an entertaining experience.

-The Phillyist party last night was also a surprisingly good time. A goodly number of folks showed up, we heard some great stories, drank lots of alcohol, and ate lots of good food. Awesome!
Tagged (?): Movie night (Not), Movies (Not), Phillyist (Not)
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Thursday, October 7, 2004 07:22 AM
What kind of trap was that again?
 by Fëanor

When Amy came to movie night with Disney's original Parent Trap (starring Hayley Mills, Hayley Mills, and Maureen O'Hara, in lots of horrible, horrible outfits), I made noises and faces of complete disgust and horror (despite the fact that I'd never seen the film before). But in fact, watching it with the movie night crowd was more fun than I've had in a long time. More fun, in fact, than a barrel full of monkeys wearing party hats! And that's a lot of fun there, mister, I can tell you.

Of course, I still can't really say that I've seen the movie, because we talked over the entire thing. But that was what made it great. By itself, it's a typical Disney film, pushing traditional values in a predictable and yet vaguely creepy way, with some strange sexual subtext in the background. But with our comments added, it became THE FILTHIEST FILM EVER MADE. We made more inappropriate and totally hilarious jokes during this movie than we've made watching any other movie. We covered pretty much every kind of sexual perversion imaginable, and even made some Hitler jokes. It was fantastic.

Amy's previous movie pick was Showgirls, but this movie was somehow far dirtier. We decided this was because with Showgirls, you really have nowhere to go, whereas with The Parent Trap, you have everywhere to go. And we went there. We went all over there.

And tonight is game night, and another session of "Betrayal at House on the Hill." Am I excited? Does the pope go in the woods?

Btw, is it sick that I'm considering sending out a kind of pre-registration form for game day, which asks people when they're going to arrive, and includes a list of possible games to vote on, so I can split people into teams and make a schedule of two concurrent gaming sessions?

Don't bother answering, I know it's sick.
Tagged (?): Board games (Not), Game day (Not), Game night (Not), Gaming (Not), Movie night (Not), Movies (Not)
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Wednesday, October 6, 2004 10:16 AM
My Secret Admirer
 by Fëanor

I've been meaning to say thank you to whoever signed me up for hyperspace on starwars.com. So, thank you! I haven't had a chance to check it out too much, but I'm hoping to see some cool stuff on the web cam, or something.

Of course, it's possible I signed myself up and totally forgot about it. In which case, thank you, me! But I really don't think my occasional fits of amnesia have gotten that bad yet.

In other news, I finally got around to watching the first episode of Joss Whedon's short-lived sci-fi show "Firefly" last night (thank you, Netflix!). Peccable told me it wasn't very good, but I think it's quite cool. Maybe the low expectations helped, or maybe it's just because I give movies and TV shows more of the benefit of the doubt than Peccable does.

Anyhow, now I'm sorry I didn't watch "Firefly" when it was actually on live, real TV. I think I'd say that it definitely starts off at a higher quality than "Farscape" (which I've been watching via Netflix, too, and I'm still waiting for it to get really good). The characters are interesting, the dialogue is good, the story ocassionally takes some unexpected twists. And the whole sort of style and look is rather different and fascinating. Ocassionally the characters will use odd slang or drop into Chinese. I like that. I like the sense of a history behind everything that we don't know about. It's part of what makes the Star Wars universe so intriguing. The show also sort of goes back to Gene Roddenberry's original conception of "Star Trek," making even more literal use of his metaphor of the outer reaches of space as American Western frontier. There are cowboys and horses and gun fights and showdowns and all kinds of stuff like that. But in space! And in the future! Yay!

Anyway, I'm not saying it's the greatest thing ever, but it's decent, and I'm going to keep watching it. I mean, it's certainly better than that crappy "CSI" show. Why the hell is that thing popular? It's brainless, predictable, totally unimaginative, and completely unbelievable.

But tonight is movie night, and that's cool.

Btw, did you know that if you enter any woman's name into Google's image search, you will always get back at least one picture of a naked or mostly-naked lady? Providing you have SafeSearch turned off, of course.

You probably shouldn't test this theory at work, though.

UPDATE: I meant, just on the first page, you'll find at least one. But actually it looks like this is true of just about any word you search for, let alone women's names. So basically, the internet has a lot of porn on it. I guess this wasn't that exciting a discovery, huh?
Tagged (?): Firefly (Not), Internet (Not), Movie night (Not), Star Trek (Not), Star Wars (Not), TV (Not)
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Wednesday, September 29, 2004 09:18 PM
Mwa ha ha!
 by Fëanor

I have fixed the archive page, in a matter of moments! Fear my power!

Ahem.

So yeah. Movie night didn't go as well as I'd hoped, because Azumi wasn't as good as I remembered. It was really slow, and long, and there were a few dumb scenes in there that I swear weren't in the version Sarcasmo and I saw at the festival. Which is quite possible, as foreign films often end up getting shown in different, edited versions when they're screened in the states. And this DVD is kind of an import, direct from the source, you might say. Kind of.

Or, as Sarcasmo pointed out, it could just be that neither of us remember the movie very well, since we saw it late at night, and I had seen many, many other movies just before, and saw many, many more just after.

Anyway, the point is, Captain Kronos is way shorter and stupider, and probably would have been a lot more fun.

I forgot to mention, when I was talking about the ridiculous storm we experienced on Tuesday, that once again a book that I borrowed from someone was ruined by the rain. I'm running along, trying to get out of the wet as soon as possible, in the hopes of keeping the things in my bag as dry as possible, when somehow my bag comes open, and what should hop out but the one thing in my bag that is not mine and that I just borrowed from my brother--his copy of The Gunslinger. Sorry, bloginator. I will get you a new copy. The same thing happened to me when I borrowed Peccable's copy of Cryptonomicon. I end up buying more books that way.

So, the moral of the story is, if you want a new copy of a book, lend it to me, and I'll end up having to buy one for you. The good part is, I end up getting to keep the messed up copy, which has a lot of character.

So, what else? Tomorrow (or rather, today I guess, now), my friends and I tend to ignore both presidential candidates and play "Betrayal at House on the Hill" instead. Woo. Hoo.

Which is not to say I wouldn't like to see the Bush Entity get its butt handed to it. But you know how I feel about live events. I mean, what if a nipple comes out? I'd be so mortified.
Tagged (?): Board games (Not), Books (Not), Game night (Not), Gaming (Not), Meta (Not), Movie night (Not), Movies (Not), Personal (Not), Politics (Not), Weather (Not)
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Wednesday, September 29, 2004 03:22 PM
Buh
 by Fëanor

First, some geeky news related to our nation, which I acquired from various sources (Dave sent me the first link, and the second link I got to via Sarcasmo's links).

It was extremely wet yesterday around here. I mean, it was no Florida or anything, but still. A tornado apparently swept through a little shopping mall not very far from our apartment, wreaking various havockses. The hell?

Work was busy today. Argh.

I finally won one of the many Hero Quest auctions I've been involved in since I got back into the game a while ago. Yay! So pretty soon, relatively, the Wizards of Morcar expansion should be winging its way to me across the ocean. Hopefully all that German will be well-translated...

And now it's off to movie night, where I'll be screening the crazed Azumi. But first, some food, because, man. I'm dying here.

Btw, I was going to link to my old post on Hero Quest up there somewhere, but it looks like my archives page is caught in an infinite loop or something. Suck. I'd better get to work on that at some point.

Oh, yeah, and I finally checked out Soul Calibur II last night. It pretty much rocks. It's exactly like Soul Calibur, complete with the random, meaningless chunks of pretentious narration, except it's got even more features and cool stuff, like extra weapons that you can buy for your characters, and a playable Link from Legend of Zelda--if you have the GameCube version, anyway.

Okay, I think I'm done now. This post would have been better and less rambling if I weren't so tired and hungry.
Tagged (?): Board games (Not), Gaming (Not), Internet (Not), Movie night (Not), Movies (Not), Video games (Not), Weather (Not), Work (Not)
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Tuesday, September 28, 2004 08:54 AM
Issues
 by Fëanor

I sat down last night to write up another lovely post for you folks, only to discover to my horror that my site was unable to connect to my mySQL database (I hate saying "my mySQL"--it sounds so repetetive and silly). After some poking around, I determined that this was probably because omnis (the company that hosts my site) had taken it down to perform maintenance, and that there was no need to freak out. Unless of course it was still down this morning, in which case, aaaahhhh!!! Luckily, as you see, this morning everything was a-okay.

But this meant that last night I was quite grumpy. It didn't help that, due to a doctor's appointment and a late dinner, I didn't have time to do any of the other things I wanted to do, either (important things, like watching various DVDs and the tape of the Eagles' victory over the Lions). It always bugs me when I have a bunch of stuff that needs doing and I can't do it. Of course, it also bugs me if I have nothing to do. What I need is a constantly refreshing line-up of tasks to perform, which I can be working on constantly, and which I can finish relatively quickly with little frustration.

But anyway, it turns out that that late dinner kept me awake, and thusly I did get a chance to do one of those tasks. Hooray! The particular task I refer to here is the viewing of Captain Kronos: Vampire Hunter. This is a film I decided I wanted to see some 9 or 10 years ago, so when I finally found it in a Suncoast Video a little while ago, I couldn't resist snapping it up. Unfortunately, I decided to see it based on the recommendation of Leonard Maltin, back when I thought it was a good idea to trust Leonard Maltin. I have since learned--the hard way--that this is, in fact, not a good idea. But this movie really does sound like a lot of fun--it's a Hammer horror flick that tells the story of a kind of swashbuckling superhero named Captain Kronos who, as you might expect from the title, goes about killing vampires.

Despite this fantastic premise, the movie is terrible. It was as if somebody wanted to make a cheap, sleazy western, but then was forced to move the setting to England, add in vampires, and replace all the guns with swords--and not even the right swords! I mean, Kronos has a samurai sword! Wtf?

Anyway, I was considering bringing Kronos to movie night (it's my choice this week), but after last night's viewing, I've decided it's too dumb even for that. I also decided some time ago that I wouldn't bring serious movies that I truly loved to movie night anymore. I get too defensive about them for some reason. And after all, movie night is supposed to be fun. So no more shall I subject the crowd to films like The Trial.

But here are some of the movies I'm still considering:

  • Fist of Legend - This is one of my favorite kung fu movies of all time. It's a Jet Li remake of a Bruce Lee film that's full of incredible fighting scenes, and even has a halfway decent plot.

  • Master of the Flying Guillotine - An absolute classic from the 70s. It features the coolest weapon ever, and a bunch of freakish fighters, including a blind assassin, a one-armed boxer (played by Jimmy Wang Yu, with his arm tucked very obviously inside his shirt), and an Indian guy who can stretch his arms until they're about six feet long.

  • Dark Star - John Carpenter's best film, in my opinion, co-written by Dan O'Bannon, the guy who wrote Alien. It's a weird, darkly comic sci fi flick with a bunch of great ideas and terrible special effects.

  • Azumi - The new film from Ryuhei Kitamura. I caught it at the festival this year and was blown away, as you can see from my review. It's a swordfighting epic, full of fantastic characters, special effects, visuals, fighting, etc., etc. It's just fantastic. I really use that word way too much, but there you go.

I think that's everything I was thinking of. Movie night folks, feel free to vote for your choice in the comments section. :)
Tagged (?): Meta (Not), Movie night (Not), Movies (Not), Personal (Not)
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Friday, September 24, 2004 06:01 PM
Sky of Blue, Screen of Green
 by Fëanor

A trip to the list will reveal (if you're keeping very careful track) the addition of two more films, both with rather long titles: Confessions of a Dangerous Mind and Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow.

Confessions was mouserobot's choice for movie night, and a fine choice it was. The movie is stuffed to bursting with crazy combinations of talent--directed by sometime actor George Clooney (his debut behind the camera) and written by crazed genius Charlie Kaufman, based on the wildly unlikely supposed autobiography of whacked out gameshow host Chuck Barris. It's surreal and violent and insane and quite touching and clever. Chuck is portrayed as a complete dick, who tromps all over the heart of pretty Penny (played by the inimitably cute and talented Drew Barrymore) for an hour or so before finally realizing how fantastic she is. I wanted to smack him. He even cheated on her. Cheated on Drew Barrymore!!!

Anyway, the film proposes the fantastic and yet strangely believable idea that Barris was secretly a hitman for the CIA, in between gameshow appearances. His fellow killers include Jennifer Julia Roberts (d'oh! Thanks, Sarcasmo) and the grizzled, fantastically under-appreciated and under-employed Rutger Hauer (whose character's name is, ridiculously, Keeler). Clooney must have called in a lot of favors or something, because plenty of other stars show up in bit parts, including Brad Pitt and Matt Damon (who both have far too many T's in their names, did you notice that?).

But I must get to Sky Captain. This movie is fantastic. It's not terribly smart or anything, and it doesn't give us insight into the human soul, but it is so much damn fun that I really don't care. As you probably could already tell from the commercials, it's a hymn to old movies and film serials, like Flash Gordon and Buck Rogers. It is also constantly alluding to and borrowing from earlier descendents of those serials, the Indiana Jones and Star Wars series (I'm pretty sure I even saw the number 1138 on the door of a scientist's lab; that's part of George Lucas's magic number, THX-1138, that he tends to incorporate into all his films), as well as King Kong and Godzilla. There's a scene on a mysterious island that involves people running from dinosaurs over a chasm bridged by a giant fallen tree that could have been lifted whole from that original monkey movie (btw, I'm so looking forward to Peter Jackson's version). And as for Godzilla, I think I saw his silhouette flash by during a newspaper montage, but I could be wrong. Anyway, the movie is full of giant monsters and robots; full of references and reminiscences.

Some people have complained that the special effects (which fill every single shot, as this was filmed entirely in front of a green screen and all of the sets were computer generated) look a bit clunky at times, and I agree, but I don't think that's a bad thing. I think the obviousness of the fakery becomes another part of the style of the film, hearkening back to the days when the rocket flying by was just a model on a stick. The film is awash in style, glowing with the slightly smoky, filtered light of times gone by--the world of tomorrow of yesterday. From the opening titles (which gave me a chill, they were so perfect) to the closing credits, from the editing to the lighting, from the acting to the dialogue, everything is suffused with that same classical, art deco, pulp style. It's a beautiful piece of work, a seamless recreation, a perfect dream of celluloid.

And it's loaded with fantastic chases, escapes, and explosions. There are characters here, too, which, though very familiar and perhaps not fully fleshed out, are nonetheless loveable and comfortable and serve their purpose. Are they stereotypes or archetypes? I'm not sure. But they are a lot of fun, like the rest of the movie, and that's all that really matters.

In other news, I have received a new game in the mail--"Betrayal at House on the Hill." (Damn, things get shipped here quickly! God bless the internet.) I am pretty darned excited. Excuse me while I go tear it open.

UPDATE: I forgot to mention, I'm really excited that this guy Kerry Conran, who wrote and directed Sky Captain, is supposedly going to be working on a film adaptation of Edgar Rice Burroughs's novel A Princess of Mars. His pulp, retro style will be perfect for a pulp sci fi novel-to-film translation.

Oh, and "Betrayal at House on the Hill" looks really cool, but there's a ton of little things that need to be punched out. Oh, who am I kidding. I love games with lots of little things, and I love to punch them out and organize them, because I'm a big nerd. [Imagine me snorting and pushing my glasses up my nose here.]
Tagged (?): Board games (Not), Movie night (Not), Movies (Not)
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Wednesday, September 1, 2004 08:47 PM
The Sweet Smell of Black and White
 by Fëanor

Almost every Wednesday night for a few years now, some friends and I have gathered together and watched a movie. We each get to pick a movie to show in a cycle. Once you've been to a certain number of meetings (the exact amount to be determined by our erstwhile host, Peccable), you get added to the cycle and get to pick a movie, too.

The movie night group has gotten bigger and louder as time has gone on. We've watched movies of every kind imaginable. Last week our host was sick and movie night got cancelled. But movie night was back this week, and the absence made me realize how much I really enjoyed it.

This week, a new member of the group, who goes by the name of Super Tarzan (do you really want to know why?), got his first choice of movie. It will be difficult for him to top it. It was a film called Sweet Smell of Success, and it was truly excellent.

I'd heard of Success before. It showed up in one of those lists of greatest movies that people are always making. I knew I wanted to see it then, but I want to see a lot of movies, and I never got around to this one until now.

It stars the inestimable Burt Lancaster, an amazing actor who blew me away when I first saw him in Field of Dreams, and only impressed me more in Frankenheimer's Seven Days in May and The Train. In this film he's amazing again as the looming, powerful, but all too human Hunsecker, a newspaper columnist who can make or break people with his words. Tony Curtis is here, too, in what may be the role of his career as desperate, sleazy, conniving press agent Sidney Falco. Falco hates Hunsecker, but also desires nothing more than to become him. Hunsecker hates Falco, but needs him to do his dirty work. Theirs is the twisted central relationship of the film, but Hunsecker's relationship with his sister is just as important and just as twisted. Desperate to keep her for his own, he sends Falco out to destroy her relationship with a perfectly nice jazz musician. But Falco, in his own, secret heart, loves her as well. Perhaps she's a symbol for him of the soul he lost long ago.

This is a movie about the dark, bitter hearts of city men, and the terrible things that people will do for "success." It's also about love, in its healthy and unhealthy forms. The screenplay is a hard, jagged ball of barbed wire, full of fantastic, steely one-liners dropped with intensity out of the mouths of these amazing, larger-than-life actors. The soundtrack blares with jazz, the music of the city. The black and white photography is brilliant and beautiful, spreading the sweaty, intent faces of these cold, bitter men across the screen and turning them into incredible architectural monuments to the evil that man does to man.

Success made me fall in love with black and white all over again. There's something clean and stark and fantastic about it. The director here is Alexander Mackendrick, somebody I'd never really heard of before, and who apparently didn't make too many films (although it turns out I did see another movie by him--The Ladykillers--but I didn't like it very much). Orson Welles was the first director to make me fall in love with black and white. See his Citizen Kane, or his Macbeth, or Touch of Evil, or The Trial, or Falstaff.

But definitely see Sweet Smell of Success. It's a jagged, poisoned dagger of a film. Which isn't to say that it's all dark and evil. There's some hope at the end that goodness can survive. But not without beating the sneaks and the liars at their own game, and getting a little stained in the process.
Tagged (?): Movie night (Not), Movies (Not)
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Welcome to the blog of Jim Genzano, writer, web developer, husband, father, and enjoyer of things like the internet, movies, music, games, and books. For a more detailed run-down of who I am and what goes on here, read this.

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